Friday, May 15, 2020

Vet Visit: Less than Great News

After our weekend of renovating, Monday morning rolled around and I was EXHAUSTED. But I had lots of work to catch up on (3 day weekend except we're all working from home and for many of us that means working basically all the time lol), and the vet was scheduled to come out for our annual visit late morning. The horses were actually due to be seen in April, but it was smack dab in the middle of our state's stay at home order, plus I knew we weren't going anywhere for the near future, so I let it slide a month. But we do have some plans that involve hauling out later this month, so I knew I needed new Coggins at least -- and when they're out for that we also do dentals, rabies vaccines, FECs, and sheath cleaning for the boys (since they already get happy drugs for their teeth). The last few visits have been relatively straightforward, so I didn't expect anything else from this one. I was very and painfully wrong... Ugh.

It didn't start out too terribly. It was a new-to-me vet (my usual vet is out on maternity leave, although I'm comfortable seeing any vet from this practice), and because of the COVID-19 restrictions, she didn't have the usual gaggle of students with her, it was just her and one other newly-graduated vet. So I figured the visit might take a bit longer than usual (which ended up being the understatement of the year, ha), but that it would be fine. Apparently she's spent the last few years focusing exclusively on teeth and sinus issues. Ok, cool! This will be a chance for me to learn more about teeth. And boy did I learn...

We started with Cinna, and she was her usual friendly and sociable self. I actually had time to clean the horses up this time (usually the vets come out in like February when they're hairy and muddy and just effing disgusting) so I requested new Coggins photos. Joke's on me, NONE of the horses wanted to stand nicely for photos, so I'm 100% sure they all look like llama-giraffes in their photos, sigh. Cinna was chill for her blood draw and sedative administration, then they got to work on her teeth. She didn't have anything super unexpected, except the vet had me come look in her mouth to see that one of her back right molars on the top was a little crooked -- nothing new, nothing that was going to hurt her, just something to be aware of because the fact that it didn't correctly meet her bottom tooth on that side meant she really needs very regular dental attention. She isn't a horse you can skip years on (not that I ever do, just something the vet wanted me to be very clear about for the future). Nothing atrocious, but I got a little irritated (not at the vet) that I've had this horse floated at least 5+ times now (? she's 8 this year, but I can't remember if they did much besides pull wolf teeth when she was 2, but she's definitely had her mouth looked at A LOT), and no one had ever bothered to point that out to me or explain what it would mean... so... cool.
Cinna was the only horse who didn't poop in her stall so the vet had to go in to grab some samples for the fecal and Cinna was REAL offended by that. Too drugged to do anything about it, but she tried her hardest to suck the poop back up out of reach. I was dying laughing. 
Majestically staring out the door while we drugged his girlfriend. Also yes I know my stall mats desperately need to be yanked and the stalls releveled, it's on my NEVERENDING to do list. 
While she slept off her drugs, we moved on to Jack. I let the vet know the last two years I've had him on the list for a dental check, they told me he didn't have anything concerning and could be skipped (although now that I've read through my past posts on vet visits I think maybe he got skipped three years ago and two years ago and got done last year? I didn't write a post last year, BAD BLOGGER). On previous visits they've still drugged him to take a good look in his mouth, and then cleaned his sheath, but he's been my decidedly NOT problem child the last few years. Apparently he decided to make up for that. Right off the bat, she called me over to look at his gums and pointed out some areas of concern. One of his incisors was loose, and she showed me a bunch of other things before dropping the bombshell that he very clearly had classic symptoms of Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis....
Come again?
Actual representation of my face, and then as she returned to work on his float, I was frantically googling. 
The nearest incisor was the very wiggly one, although she seemed pretty sure both outer top incisors and possibly his canine teeth would need to be extracted. 
She lovingly kept referring to his "old man teeth" -- why yes, he DID just turn 25. But he's had regular dental care every year since I bought him at age 11 in 2006. 
If you, like me, had never heard of this diagnostic pile of word vomit and are curious, I got a crash course in it by googling. I couldn't spell any of the words she originally said, but "equine tooth disease" got me to where I could filter out some results and find it. You can find it by the acronym EOTRH (because God knows the full name is a fucking tongue twister). She got his teeth floated, but recommended I make an appointment to bring him in to the hospital for a dental x-ray and expect that he was going to have a few gnarly extractions.
OK. That's fine. I can handle some xrays and extractions. I mean, sucky time because COVID-19 restrictions means I can't go WITH him, but I can take him up there and deal with the aftercare. That's fine. 
After a lot more research and reading, it sounds like pulling affected teeth can help delay the progression and decrease pain levels, and horses don't need their incisors anyway. Plenty of photos showing horses with no front teeth carrying on and living life, so I felt a little better later in the week, but god getting that diagnosis just tossed at me like a newspaper was rough.
Jack was as chill as ever for all his work though, he's a good boy. 
And then while we waited for him to wake up from the sedation he kept hanging his tongue out -- he's never done that after sedation! I hope that means EOTRH is a new development and not something that's been brewing for a while that nobody caught :( he does do a weird thing with his tongue when he drinks, but he's done that ever since I got him and SURELY someone would have noticed this in the last 14 years if this was an old problem. Uhhhhhh.
He can join all the toothless dachshunds for #tongueoutTuesday
Next up was Ruby. She had some hooks and definitely needed to be done, and we kept joking about some sort of terrible diagnosis, to fit in with everyone else (although TBF, Cinna's wasn't horrible, just annoying). It was kind of cool to hear the main vet showing the secondary vet her teeth and discussing all the grooves and ridges and whatnot that help them make an estimate on age -- without seeing her papers, the vet said she'd put her at a range between 8 and 11 but pretty close to 10, based on the start of some of her grooves. She's a January 2011 baby, so almost smack at 9.5. Neat!
But really she was perfect. As per usual. They loved her. 
Trigger was our last victim of the day. When the vet took his vitals, I asked if she heard anything concerning in his lungs, because in the past he's had bouts of heaves. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a mild case, and I made some management changes. Last year (which I apparently didn't blog about), his lungs sounded fine so they told me no need to fret anymore. When he went out trail riding in January, we did notice him getting a little winded, but that could have been due to both age and lack of of fitness. So whenever the vet is out I check to see how his lungs sound. She gave him a clean bill of health for his TPR, and I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking I was out of the woods with the weird shit this visit. You know where this is going.

It's turning into one giant blur of not great news at this point, but basically he has at least one, possibly more, fractured teeth. On the definite fracture, they were pulling out lots of gunk and towards the end there was a definite smell -- so not good. She recommended getting him in as expediently as possible for dental x-rays and more extractions (OH YAY!), so while she continued to work, I got on the phone with the hospital. With two horses to come in and the possibility of multiple extractions, we're looking at a whole day ordeal, and they were booked out until the first week of June. When I told the vet at my house they were booked up through June, she did try to pull the definitely fractured tooth, but she didn't have all the tools she needed or the space in his mouth. I finally had to call the hospital back yesterday (since they never bothered to call me back after saying they'd check the vet's schedule and get back to me), and we are set for the first week in June. I wish it were sooner, but apparently they've got a lot going on. The only saving grace is my mom recently transferred to the equine department so I'm hoping she can take lots of photos for me. Fingers crossed.
They spent a LONG time in his mouth, and he was pretty over it by the time they were finishing up. 
Never have my feelings been more adequately summed up in a photo...
Sooooo yeah. I can't wait to get the bill from this visit knowing I'll have an even bigger one coming up with two sets of dental x-rays and multiple extractions. YAY HORSES...

But never fear -- we'll be back to your regularly scheduled tack shed renovation posts next week!


  1. Ugh why are vet bills never LOWER than you expect? I'm sorry to hear about the bad teeth but I hope the horses are more comfy after their extractions

    1. Yeah it's so rarely a GOOD surprise, lol. I'm sure they'll be so much more comfortable in a few weeks, I just wish it were sooner!

  2. Oh man, I'm sorry. That's the tough thing about them getting older... the teeth! Extra bummer that you can't get them in sooner. The boys are pretty bad ass considering they seem to be eating normally despite all of that!
    Most vets only have pretty basic dental knowledge and skills, so when you get one that's specialized it's often kind of awful to hear about everything they see. I mean... is a dental visit ever good? For anyone? Ugh.

    1. Yeah, I'm sure a lot of these "problems" were identified because dentistry is her specialty, so I'm trying not to beat myself up too badly. They definitely have been eating normally through all of this, so I'm hoping they're not TOO uncomfortable. Although I'm sure they'll feel better once they get the icky teeth pulled!

  3. Another blogger had a horse that was diagnosed with EOTRH - Saddle Seeks Horse.

    Sorry about the spate of bad news :(

    1. Good to know, I'll check it out!

    2. Looks like she posted a follow up that they don't think her horse has it after all. But still interesting to read about someone else's experience!

  4. Great, now ther3s something else to worry about. Because, horses. I’m terrified to google it because I’m sure that,if I do, Irish will definitely get it.

    1. Yeah apparently it's particularly prevalent in Thoroughbreds.... Because of course it is 🙈